What's New for 1996
ES carries over, but the base model gets several improvements to remain competitive with the new Ford Taurus. ES styling cues and 16-inch wheels come standard on the base Intrepid. New colors and seat fabrics update this full-size sedan, and all Intrepids get noise, vibration and harshness improvements.
Until the Intrepid was introduced in 1992, no domestic manufacturer had posed a threat to the best-selling Ford Taurus in the midsize family sedan category. While the Taurus remained a strong seller, the Intrepid, with its good looks and commodious cabin, carved a niche for itself on this crowded and scarred battleground.
This year, Dodge has seen to it that the aging Intrepid received some upgrades to keep it competitive with the all-new Taurus. Base cars take on several of the styling cues formerly reserved for the top-of-the-line Intrepid ES, including fog lamps, lower sill moldings and 16-inch wheels and tires. Cruise control is also standard on the base Intrepid. Interiors on both base and ES models have been quieted down, and a combined CD/cassette player is available. New interior fabric covers the seats, and four new colors are on the paint palette. Engineers have revised the Intrepid so that it passes 1997 side impact standards a year early.
The top-of-the-line ES is our favorite Intrepid. It goes, stops and turns as well as some lighter and seemingly more nimble cars. Inside, the ES has seating for five, a floor-mounted shifter, and sporty black-on-white gauges. Underhood, an optional 214-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 powers the front wheels with alacrity. Unfortunately, a loaded ES tips the scales at $26,000, but for that kind of money you get leather seats, a CD player, a sunroof and a host of other luxury conveniences. Base model Intrepids eschew the ES's handsome trimming and aluminum wheels, but retain the fundamentals that make this sedan so good.
Will the Intrepid remain competitive against the smooth new Taurus? Time will tell. If interior space is your number-one priority in a sedan, the Intrepid is hard to beat. This popular segment of the market is saturated with excellent cars though, so do some comparison shopping before settling on the big Dodge.